KARACHI: Brace yourselves, Pakistanis. If Nasa reports are to be believed, this will be one of the hottest, driest Ramazan the country has ever seen. This means you need to be well hydrated, and eat a balanced nutritious Sehri and Iftar so that your energy levels do not sink and make you dysfunctional during your fast. A well rounded diet is needed. Instead of a table laden with less nutritious food choices, let us try and opt for quality rather than quantity…lesser but tastier and more nutritious dishes.
So even if you continue with a bit of the samosa pakora binges, here are 15 suggestions from The Express Tribune that will give you considerable energy boosts. Happy Fasting!
1. Lassi or Chaach
Yogurt will be your saviour so add it to your diet in every possible form. Lassi is the thicker, often sweet version of our yogurt based favourite drink. Sweet Lassi can have different flavours with adding in fruits, specially delicious mangoes. But Chaach, thinner in consistency and seasoned with a little salt, is actually a great choice at Iftar, as it replenishes the body’s lost salts.
2. Haleem, Hareesa or Shola
These all-in-ones have ingredients from all food groups. Haleem is most popular, with protein of meat and pulses. But Hareesa is also an amazing option. It basically omits the pulses and uses boiled, cracked or ground wheat and meat as the main ingredients. Shola is a similar mix of mince meat, spinach, lentils and rice. At Iftar, these are excellent options.
3. Mewa (Dried fruit and nuts)
We normally associate dried fruit and nuts with winter, but while fasting we need the rich nutrition they provide. Other than the usual almonds, peanuts and walnuts, also go for dried apricots, plums, prunes, kishmish (raisins) and figs for much needed fibre. You need the Vitamin E, Calcium, minerals, Omega-3 and protein they provide.
4. Yogurt smoothies and home-made fruit yogurt
Yes, yoghurt makes a re-entry on the list. This season has the biggest variety of fruits. So go for yogurt-based smoothies with peaches, mangoes, cherries and apricots. Chop the same fruits for a healthier variety and whip them into some sweetened yogurt.
TIP: Add a dash of jelly powder and jelly cubes and see the result.
5. Filled parathas
This is the complete meal, delicious with chutney, achar and kachoomar (finely chopped onions and tomatoes with lemon juice). Fillings can be any and many. Qeema, mashed potatoes, cooked gobhi (cauliflower), or even channa daal. For a healthier variety, make them with whole whaet four and replace regular oil or ghee with olive oil.
6. Kabab Shabab
Different kinds are life saviours for people on the go. So stock up! Shaami kababs, chapli kababs, potato cutlets, finger kababs or those made with dum ka qeema….any and every variety is great for both Sehri and Iftar. They provide the much needed meat quotient to your diet in Ramazan and blend well with anything.
7. Laal sharbat concoctions
A Pakistanis Ramazan without Rooh Afza and all its sister brands is incomplete. Refreshing and light, it is known to have herbal ingredients that fight the effects of hot winds that can cause a heat stroke. Have it as is or add it to your Limo Paani (lemonade). A great idea is to have it with milk and slivered nuts for Sehri.
8. Chaat variations
This is a no-brainer and a given, and perhaps THE healthiest and most sensible choice when it comes to our traditional Pakistani Iftar. One can go all creative with it. Separate the fruit chaat, dahi baray and Cholay (chick peas) or mix them all up for a more Anaarkali variety, its yummy and filling, and gives you a balanced meal.
9. Raita Salaad
Even regular salad eaters somehow take a hiatus from salads in Ramazan, and that is a big mistake. Keep crunchy cucumbers and chopped veggies on the side. To make it yummier, have mint raita. For a more filling variety, cucumber or baingan (eggplant) raita can be mixed to anything, like daal and salad. Remember, your body needs the greens.
10. The vital Anday
You cannot take away the eggs from a Pakistanis Sehri. So go ahead. Enjoy the khaaqina, the Pakistani omelette, the more international cheese and mushroom omelette, or boiled eggs if your health conscious. Even eggnog is a good idea for a boost. If the smell of raw egg offends you, add a few drops of Rooh Afza.
PS: Dont forget the meetha toast (French toast).
11. Sandwiches and wraps from around the world
PHOTO: FARAH KAMAL
Think outside the box. Why just go for fried stuff, that too in this heat? Go for sandwiches and wraps. Healthier ones can be in multi-grain breads and whole wheat pita. It can be wholesome if you add in greens and veggies, and you can experiment with different kinds of meats. Add feta cheese instead of cheddar if you want it to be even yummier and healthier.
12. Soups and yakhnis
You are not going to drink these outdoors under the glaring sun. So to ease your parched throat, get the much needed liquid intake, and fill yourself up, continue with soups and yakhnis if you are a soup person. They are filling and give us the salts and proteins. If vegetables and lentils are added to them, even better.
13. Kheer with sheermaal OR Jalebi, Phainee with milk
You don’t want to go so low on sugar that you are fainting away. So specially for Sehri or that midnight snack after you come home from taraweeh, these two options are hot favourites.
14. Shorbay aur salan
Again, do something off beat. You don’t have to stick to just dry qeema and bhunna gosht. Do keep at the aloo gosht and qorma. Have them with boiled rice or pulao, or even chapaati, for a complete Iftar come dinner or Sehri.
15. Bun kabab
Last but not the last, this is good at any time for any reason. Fill it with kabab, anda, chutney, cutlet or even daal. This is the ideal food that will ward away those hunger pangs.
PS: Remember, a burger can never be a bun kabab!